I stood for a moment and looked at the room. The bed had a headrest and the sofa upholstery had changed. It was grey now. The Hotel was being renovated. I walked to the window and pushed the curtains aside. The view was the same as last time. I was facing Hamilton Inn. The old age home seemed a little more to the right and the swimming pool was all blue below me. The phone rang and I picked it up. My colleague was calling me over for dinner. It is an unwritten rule with all of us colleagues. All new comers are welcomed with food by the resident colleagues. I smiled as I hung up the phone. This visit would be different. Unlike the previous visit I had company from day one and a community kitchen in operation. I unpacked all the grocery and stocked the kitchen. I put the grocery my friends had requested to one side. I put the toiletries and clothes in their place and put the suitcases in the closets and a little later walked up to my colleague's room for dinner.
This would be the routine for the whole of this visit. Before I left India I knew there would be a lot of community living this time and no solitude. But I didn't know that the kitchen was community cooking and eating. The kitchen was setup in one room and everyone congregated there for cooking and eating. I had assumed it would be potluck with each one cooking a dish and everyone joining only for eating. This was new. In that kitchen we would go on to make chapathis, Bisi Bele Bath, Kichdi, Noodles and a variety of vegetables over the coming days. The Sun wouldn't set until 8:30 PM and my colleague would have the curtains pushed aside completely. It would be seven PM and completely bright outside and I would shake my head incredibly as we rolled chapathis and talked. We would sit eating and dusk would fall and the Moon would slowly rise outside the window. The time would be eight forty in the night and it would slowly get dark. This was all very new and unbelievable. That memory of us eating watching the moon in the sky and some kids playing basketball below is so vivid. However much I loved watching the view from the window I never parted the curtains after sunset from my room. I was on the fourth floor but still scared. So that view is cherished all the more. And two days later after seeing the painters around the hotel I double checked if the windows were latched true and fast. This was supposed to be my number one task on day one.
Early next morning I ran down the stairs to check on all my friends. The guy at the reception was new. I ran outside. Were the Magnolias in bloom? I ran to each corner of the Hotel. Yes they were. A flower was in full bloom at the top and a lot of buds were peeping out. The one at eye level would bloom in a day or two. I could take a picture then. How about the Rose bushes? My sister had said spring had set in and flowers were everywhere. I turned to the Rose bush. Small pink flowers covered the leaves. Wasn't there another bush on the other side? Oh it was all pink. Small yellow flowers at my feet caught my eye. I bent down, they were some wild flowers in the grass. A huge pot was being weighed down by colorful Petunias. I gently felt the petals. They were oh so soft. I would see petunias in so many colors and on sidewalks in this visit. The Manager had not changed. He was the same eyeglass and all. I watched as he entered the hotel. The crows cawed in American and I looked up at them. They flitted from tree to car to tree. I smiled. They had not changed :) I squinted at the sky for the steel birds, friends again:) There they were blinking and hovering up above the sky. Then I waited for the my first Sunrise. The Sun rose golden behind the trees. On the opposite side the Moon was still in the sky a pale white. Underneath it the buildings were bathed in golden sunshine. All my Amigos were just as I had left them. But the driver of the shuttle had changed and so had the cleaning women.
Swimming Pool with the Moon above
Magnolia in bloom
Roses, Roses and Roses
Buildings bathed in golden Sunlight and the Moon in the sky
The Oatmeal sat in its corner. Beside it were four types of cereals and in the far right the Waffle maker. The fridge below was stacked with Yogurt but no cut fruits. On the other side was Bacon, hard boiled eggs, Bread et al. I picked up my Oatmeal and settled down on a table facing the TV. Slowly the hall filled up. A lot of Japanese staying this time I thought. Suddenly the ticker read Toyota has moved into Dallas. Their building was ready and employees were moving in. I nodded enlightened.
Do I wear a Sari to the office I wrote to my friends. And a debate ensued with some opining that I shouldn't in Trumpland while some felt I should just go ahead. My sister felt I had to blend in rather than proclaim my nationality. I had so looked forward to wearing a Sari but the forcefulness of some arguments shook me. But buoyed by some positive arguments I stepped out in a Sari. Heads turned everywhere right from the hotel and in the office. I would do this a couple of more times and everywhere the Sari won. The driver of the shuttle a big American man was the first to compliment. He was born in Mumbai where his father worked. His mother was a big fan of Saris and had bought some when they returned to India. My sari had reminded him of a lot of good memories and he was a my friend now.
The food misadventures began in earnest a couple of days later. The vegetables inside the Tacos overflowed one day. On another day the vegetables from the Mexican Tortilla leaked all over my hand. I might as well have doused my hand with it. Why was that Sandwich so big? And that Goat cheese with it left a taste in my mouth that I wouldn't want to repeat in my life. How am I going to eat that Pasta that I ordered with the Sandwich? It was doused with white sauce and the Goat cheese had decided it needed no company that day. Another day the guy at Subway Sandwich picked up the extra vegetables that I had ordered in the same hand with which he was making a chicken sandwich. My vegetarian belief was a little disconcerted as I ate my Sandwich. The dinners we cooked became all the more important. Cook more at night and carry lunch to the office became a routine. Finally it was only the Subway Sandwich and food at Indian Hotels that I would relish. The Mexican food adventure died except for a magnificent Quesadilla that I relished at Dublin. How did my colleagues live here for months on end? I now empathized when they said the smell of the breakfast in the hotel turned them off. And I also understood why they wanted me to get groceries and breads from India. They so badly needed them.
Mexican food had been an Amigo last time but this time Nah :( Disappointed with this friend :(
Prev: Sea and Desert and off to Trumpland - gallery
Next: At an American University at last
Next: At an American University at last